3/18/10

Ladies Night Knows Shat!: Shoot or Be Shot (2002)

Once a Month, T.L. Bugg takes a day off and hands the keys of the Lair over to his lovely wife, Miss Directed, and best friend, Fran Goria. The Ladies of the Lair take this chance to shine a spotlight on some of the best and worst films out there, and you never know what might happen when it's Ladies Night! Take it away Fran....

Shoot or Be Shot (2002) Director: J. Randall Argue Writers: J. Randall Argue, Steve Catanzaro, Alistair Salton Starring: William Shatner, Harry Hamlin, Scott Rinker, and Julianne Christie.

Ben Steinman (Rinker) is an aspiring director who cannot seem to write a story. Harvey Wilkes (Shatner) is an aspiring screenwriter, who also happens to be an escaped mental patient. When low budget action producer Jack Yeager (Hamlin) teams up with Ben to shoot an artistic, improv film, the two cross paths with Wilkes. The escapee then takes cast and crew hostage and forces them, at gun point, to film his own screenplay. Will Ben be able to stop Wilkes, fall in love with the girl who is not what she seems, and still keep his integrity as a director?


One sunny afternoon, seven or eight years ago, while I was perusing the new release wall at the local Blockbuster, one cover stood out for me. On that cover was Harry Hamlin with a video camera and big fat cigar, standing next to William Shatner in a straight jacket. I knew I had to see that film, so I did. After watching it, I knew I had to own it, so now I do. I have seen Shoot or Be Shot many times over the past few years, and I have to say that I like it just as much now as I ever did. The film starts off with a simple story. It has a film crew with no script and a screen writer with no film crew. The two come together, and comedy ensues. Throw in a sleazy producer who wants to gain artistic integrity in the film world, a scorned actress/lover who changes her appearance to get in on the action, and a handful of other oddball characters; and one is in for a real treat. The film quality wasn’t the best, but the camera work was pretty good. The look was perfect for the overall feel of the movie.

There were two great actors in Shoot or Be Shot, William Shatner and Harry Hamlin. These two really carried the film. Shatner was absolutely fantastic in this role. As the film opens, Shatner is in a suit and tie giving a speech. Maybe he was in an office building, in a meeting, or pitching a big idea. Then, as the camera pans back, the audience sees the interior of the mental hospital, and then realizes he is pleading his case for release. This was a quick scene, but it set the tone for Shatner’s role. He was very lovable as Wilkes, the escaped psychopath, and I really believed that his job as VCR instruction manual writer drove him mad. This was a great character for Shatner, and he his probably why I like the film so much. .Harry Hamlin stars opposite Shatner playing Jack Yeager, producer. Yeager has a reputation as a penny pincher and skirt chaser, and with good reason. Hamlin played this role to a tee. While Hamlin and Shatner were great to watch, the rest of the cast, not so much. They got the point across, but with no real style.

A couple of other cast members do deserve a quick mention, and I do mean quick as they were bit parts in the movie. First there was Lupe, Yeager’s cleaning lady, played by an actress that we met last month in Teenage Exorcist, Elena Sahagun. She did a fine job with Lupe. She was feisty, and it was nice to see her again. Then there was Uncle Bill, hotel owner and gun enthusiast, played by Tim Thomerson. Many should recognize him as Jack Deth from the Trancers films. Thomerson was great as Uncle Bill, and he really made the most of his small role. Many lovely elements come together in a lovely little package for Shoot or Be Shot. From the quirky story, to the lovable characters, this is just a fun film to watch. It may have its downfalls, but it makes me happy. I have seen it many times, and I am sure I will see it many more. I highly recommend to any fan of dry comedy, William Shatner, or anyone who wants to watch something that doesn’t require too much thought. It is simply Shatastic!

Shatner Rating


There are a lot of groups to fear in the world. All sorts of criminals, men that try to pick up women at Barnes and Noble, ICP fans, and that’s starting the list. One group I never thought I would be scared of is screen writers. What were they going to do pitch me to death? Before you make fun of the guy sitting at the Starbucks drinking something with soy milk and typing furiously, you need to see Shoot or Be Shot.


The first thing that jumped out at me watching this movie is that it had the production value of cable soft core porn. Even with Shatner over-acting his tush off, I was so distracted by a sound track that is at best a step above Casio level. To make it worse the back ground music is constant though the whole film. The end result makes the movie seem cheap. There are still a lot of bright spots in Shoot or Be Shot. The story itself is one of them. Even though some of the characters are very cliché, I love art of any kind that doesn’t mind making fun of itself. So I enjoyed watching the womanizing producer, the actress that will do anything to promote her career, the director without a vision, and the writer driven to insanity as they battle for control.

While that is well traveled ground, Hamlin and Shatner do a very entertaining job. William Shatner has always been one of those actors that a person loves, or loves to make fun of. Either way you fall on that argument, you’ll be happy here. Harry Hamlin relishes playing the slime ball. I feel sort of bad for the rest of the cast. These two men have a history of chewing the scenery, so no one else had half a chance of being noticed. The problem in the end is the movie’s shelf life. Back when I saw it the first time, I thought hey that’s funny. On my second viewing, I realized what I might like is seeing an actor I loved in a mildly funny role. If you love Mr. Shatner this is a must see for you. Even though I am giving this a lower rating, it is worth watching once.
Shatner Rating

The only clip I could find out there was on YouTube, but strangely it is dubbed into Russian. So bizarre, but I decided to include it anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...